So, you have invested a lot of time, money and other resources into designing and getting your company’s website built and operational. You have set up your Google Analytics account, and claimed your business there. You are doing all the things you should be doing to market your website online, and it’s working. You have seen a lot of new customers coming through the front door of your business. Now what?
Different sources claim different metrics, and it varies from industry to industry, but many experts estimate that it costs five to seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer. So once you have a customer visit your website, how can you get them to return to your website, and, more importantly, continue to return to you as a customer?
Are you collecting your customer’s email address as part of their information when they are scheduling a service appointment, or at the time of a transaction? If not, you should be. This can be one of the most valuable bits of information you can obtain for your business as it lets you continue to be in contact with your customers long after the service transaction is completed.
One of the simplest ways to increase customer retention is via email. Most people these days are carrying Smartphones and regularly check email on their phone. So, email is a great way to connect directly with your existing clients or those who have requested to receive email offers from you.
There are several great and reasonably priced services out there that can help you automate the process of email blasts including Mailchimp (http://www.mailchimp.com) and Constant Contact (http://www.constantcontact.com). These programs are great because not only do they allow you to easily manage a list, and process unsubscribes so you are in compliance with SPAM laws, but you can easily view engagement (opens and clicks) from each campaign.
Some of the best ways to utilize email campaigns in your business include:
• Weekly or Monthly Newsletter: Blast out an email to your entire email list offering a special of the month. For example, “August Special – $19.99 Oil Change” is something that will encourage your previous customers to return for regular maintenance. Be sure to include your address and directions to your location(s) and a printable coupon that can only be found in the email so you can track the success of the campaign.
• Follow-Up Email: A follow-up email is simply a one-to-one contact email post service to first and foremost thank the customer for their valued business, but also to confirm that everything with their service was satisfactory. This is a great chance to link to a feedback form on your website as well (see next page).
• Scheduled Maintenance: If you can maintain a database of your customers’ vehicle service needs and requirements, you can blast out email reminders about an oil change, tire rotation or other needed vehicle services that your customers may have forgotten about. In this respect, you become a valued partner in your customers’ busy lives.
Beyond the obvious immediate returns you can quantify from your email campaigns, the other added benefit is keeping your business name and branding in front of your customers’ eyes. So, when they are in need of emergency service or repairs, your name will be top of mind.
Feedback forms on your website are a great way to get customers back to your site to provide you with a wealth of insights on how they perceive your business and service. Print the link on your receipts, make the link to the form on your website very clear and visible, and even ask customers directly to “please go to our website and let us know how we did.”
This information can be invaluable to you as a business owner in finding areas of your operation that could be improved. It also identifies for you those customers who are willing to take the time to be engaged with your business and enables you to open a dialogue with them to assure them that their concerns and/or kudos have been acknowledged and are being addressed.
There are a lot of automated plugins and tools available which can make implementing a form on your site a simple process. “Contact Form 7” is a particular favorite of mine for WordPress sites (https://wordpress.org/plugins/contact-form-7/) as it is easy to implement and customize to ask the questions relevant to your business. More importantly, you can customize the form’s results action to email the results directly to your email in real time so you can be responsive to your customers’ concerns.
One note of caution anytime you decide to add forms to your website: These can attract lots of spam submissions, so I would encourage you to implement some form of Captcha on your forms which verifies that it is a human being submitting the form as opposed to an automated bot. Google offers a simple-to-use Captcha tool called reCaptcha (https://www.google.com/recaptcha/intro/) that you have probably seen or used yourself when submitting forms on websites.
Coupons / Deals
Coupons or other discounts are a great way to encourage customer retention. They let you drive traffic to the profit centers of your business that need a little boost, or those that are just simply more profitable. Ideally, you want to make certain offers that customers can find only on your website so that you know where that deal came from. More importantly, these coupons can also be utilized within your email campaigns.
Be sure to make the deals easy to print or provide a code for customers to use online when scheduling the service, and switch them up occasionally to keep the page and site from becoming too static.
Have some great feedback from your feedback form? Why not let your other potential customers know about these positive comments by posting a few of them on your website? The buying decisions of online users are often swayed by the experiences of others, which is why so many online retailers now offer “reviews” of products available on their site. So, let customers know what other customers are saying about the quality of your service, to give them that extra nudge to schedule service.
You’ve done a lot to build a quality web presence for your business, so now is the time to begin encouraging “returns” from your investment. As always, if you have specific questions or concerns about your website, feel free to email me at [email protected] and perhaps I’ll feature your question in an upcoming article. Visit http://www.shopownermag.com/ask-the-web-guru/ to submit questions and read my responses.